Genomics technologies and bioinformatics analyses have changed the way that biological research is being carried out today. Given the rapid pace of advancements in these fields, the development of science-literate citizens can be greatly aided by introducing current scientific breakthroughs and technologies early in high school curricula. Genomics is an ideally suited subject area for designing and implementing high school education initiatives because of its broad relevance to many fields of cutting-edge research, the ability to engage students with freely available online tools, as well as the availability of a growing number of teaching and curricula resources 
. Experiential learning activities, such as field trips, have been shown to be extremely effective for shifting student beliefs about science 
, and we agree with those who have argued that the time is right for developing genomics and bioinformatics activities for secondary school students 
. It is crucial for youth to have a basic understanding of modern life sciences research including human genetics and genomics as current generations will be faced with challenging personal decisions regarding whether or not to have their genomes sequenced, who has the right to access their genetic information, and how that information might be used 
. In addition to educating students so that they can navigate public debate around these issues, education efforts can have long-term benefits by ensuring that science is an attractive career choice for young people 
. Many teachers and researchers have also recognized that bioinformatics can be a valuable tool for engaging students with many core biological concepts covered in high school while at the same time touching on themes of mathematics, computer science, and technology 
. Several broad strategies for strengthening secondary school education efforts in the sciences have been suggested including support for teacher training and/or efforts to attract students into pursuing further studies and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics 
. While others have successfully focused on developing bioinformatics training for high school teachers 
, our approach has been to provide a full-day genomics and introductory bioinformatics field trip program for secondary school students. Using active learning strategies and hands-on activities to engage students, we aim to complement curricula covered in high school classrooms, generate an interest in the sciences, and provide mentorship for career choices in the sciences.
Our Genomics Field Trip Program offers secondary school students, teachers, and parent chaperones an integrated laboratory and computer-based hands-on experience hosted in the Michael Smith Laboratories (MSL) at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Named after Michael Smith (1993 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry), the MSL houses research laboratories, educational facilities, and space open to the public, and is home to research groups from 10 different departments at UBC. We have commented previously on this unique atmosphere and the key advantages that this crucial link to university research offers for designing impactful education experiences 
. The Genomics Field Trip Program described here operates alongside several different science outreach programs offered at the educational facilities of the MSL (http://bioteach.ubc.ca
) that reach out to elementary-, junior-, and senior-level students, high school teachers, and the general public.
In this article, we describe the objectives, content, and logistics of the Genomics Field Trip Program hosted at the MSL; we discuss the benefits of research-based field trip programs for students, facilitators, and teachers; and we present a list of recommendations for coordinating and facilitating effective high school field trip programs within research facilities.